Ditch the more gentrified streets in Kreuzberg, and step into a gorgeous garden courtyard tucked away in a historic block near Yorckstrasse. Riehmer’s Hofgarten was built in 1892, and designed by the architect Wilhelm Riehmer as a series of luxury apartments set around spacious garden courtyards. The block is admired for its elegant proportions and detailed façades, as well as its beautiful entrance that opens into the hidden architectural treasure.
Before getting totally absorbed in the usual graffiti-covered buildings that have come to represent the aesthetic of Berlin, try appreciating the Künstlerhaus St. Lukas. The construction of the residence started in 1889 for a community of Berlin’s artists, just like the same suggests. Its exterior is embellished with quirky and eclectic details fit for an artist’s sanctuary, including a stone animal skull and a bust of Titian overlooking the entranceway. We hear the inner courtyard is something magical, complete with a fountain and lush foliage. Alas, this oasis is only reserved for residents, leaving admirers with the option of trying to peek through the gates.
In the heart of Marzahn-Hellersdorf, a suburb not known for much expect for the endless, GDR-era concrete tower blocks characteristic of eastern Berlin, lies an impressive optical illusion. Amid the grey monotony, look out for an apartment block complete with wrought iron balconies, statue-flanked doorways and elegant stucco. On closer inspection, you’ll discover that it’s all just a façade, using a trompe-l’œil technique (realistic imagery) to create this impressive illusion of grandeur. The spectacular mural covering the block is 64 thousand square metres, making it the largest artwork in Europe. The project, completed in 2008, was an attempt by developers to prove that even Berlin’s most uninspiring housing could be transformed – with some carefully applied paint.